Being Alone

by J Larsen

Alone or Lonely?

Somehow, I instinctively felt I was never alone. I knew I needed to be by myself, to spend time with no other human except me, but I knew I was not alone. I always felt connected.

My first recollection was at a friend’s birthday party when I was four. People everywhere, noise everywhere, “drama,” expectations, emotions … ACH! Where could I go to “find myself” or – as my parents called it – “to be alone?” In the place where the grand celebration was being held, I crawled under the sink, into the bathroom cabinet. At last, I could be myself yet again, recompose, be free.

As I was there, much to my horror, the cabinet door opened. My secret of “being alone” now was being exposed to the unfeeling, harsh world. Fear and shame flooded my being. The secret shared with only family was now being exposed to that loud, chaotic, unpredictable element known as the present moment. Into the cabinet squeezed a three year old female. We exchanged glances. We sat together in the cabinet without speaking, knowing that we were the same, that we were connected.

Connected not only to each other, but also to something more than just ourselves. Rejuvenated, we later returned to the festivities and the party.

When did I first experience that I was lonely? An unconnected self? That being lonely hurt me, sapped me, isolated me. But that being alone was right for me and that it, in some mysterious way, nourished me. I came later to know that for me, the only “cure” for loneliness was, paradoxically, being alone, to be my connected self.

Unconnected or Connected Self

My unconnected self is the self that takes me to the desert alone. The self that says that I am alone, I am different, I am isolated. The self that feels disconnected, the self that feels small, the self that feels weak, the self that feels limited, the self that feels chained.

Humility has taught me otherwise. Connection to myself and others led to listening, and listening leads to humility.

Humility

Humility has become as simple as the acknowledgment and the acceptance that I am not alone. That I AM dependent. That I am part of a whole. That there is interdependence and that that interdependence is as much needed as the air I breathe. Commitment and freedom allow full, “self abandon” participation. I may be lonely at moments in time, but I am never alone.

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